3# Values of youth work

Hope. Which Way?Image by bixentro via Flickr
This is the third post in a series  of five on youth work.

We all act out of what we consider to be true. So too in youth work, our values fuel our practice. I recently came across a blog called In Defence of Youth Work. It seems very good, and I especially liked their verbalisation of what youth work is:

a voluntary, person-centred, open-ended relationship with young people –
“we need to reaffirm our belief in an emancipatory and democratic Youth Work, whose cornerstones are:
*The sanctity of the voluntary principle; the freedom for young people to enter into and withdraw from Youth Work as they so wish.
*A commitment to conversations with young people which start from their concerns and within which both youth worker and young person are educated and out of which opportunities for new learning and experience can be created.
*The importance of association, of fostering supportive relationships, of encouraging the development of autonomous groups and ‘the sharing of a common life’.
*A commitment to valuing and attending to the here-and-now of young people’s experience rather than just focusing on ‘transitions’.
*An insistence upon a democratic practice, within which every effort is made to ensure that young people play the fullest part in making decisions about anything affecting them.
*The continuing necessity of recognising that young people are not a homogeneous group and that issues of class, gender, race, sexuality and disability remain central.
*The essential significance of the youth worker themselves, whose outlook, integrity and autonomy is at the heart of fashioning a serious yet humorous, improvisatory yet rehearsed educational practice with young people.”
Of course as a Christian youth worker, I would add the value of communicating the Gospel. I would also include that young people do not live in isolation, but as part of families and communities. This is especially important for the parish worker, working as part of a local Christian community – as I said in my previous post, we all go together or not at all.
So under the guidance of the above youth work cornerstones, parish youth work consists of:
Community youth work – in obedience to Jesus’ command to love our neighbour as ourselves, the church gives youth work provision to its local geographical area, for example in the form of an open youth club or detached work.
Church youth work – in obedience to Jesus’ command to go and make disciples, the church communicates the Gospel to young people, for example in the form of an evangelistic event, discipleship group or Christian Union.
As I begin to lay the foundations for my review final report, which goes to the PCC’s at the end of the month, I am looking at our present practice and dreaming how we might proceed, in the light of these values.
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